“You win again, love,” I said affectionately as I placed my cards face down on the table. I had to work hard to hide my grin when her eyes narrowed with suspicion.
“Really?” She reached for my cards.
“Ah, ah,” I admonished, putting them back into the deck. “You know the rules.” The cute, little frown appearing on her face—two tiny lines emerging between her huge, guileless eyes, and mouth pursing in a way that made my mind leap to other, more interesting things— had me swallow a chuckle.
“Then how do I know I won?”
Making my eyes go as wide as they could, I gave her a wounded look. “Are you insinuating that I’m letting you win?”
A reluctant smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. “Maybe.”
“The whole point of poker is to win, love. I wouldn’t pretend to lose just to see your gorgeous smile.”
She blushed, a pretty pink stain appearing on her hollow cheeks.
She needs to eat more.
Scooping up the last bit of pudding, I put it in her bowl. “Eat up, love,” I said with a grin. “Winning is hard work.”
She eyed the pudding with a look that was part yearning, part apprehension. “I feel like it’s talking to me,” she admitted with a rueful smile.
I leaned forward, interested. “What’s it saying?”
“Well… it’s a particularly arrogant pudding.”
My interest grew. “Oh?”
She mimicked my posture, resting her elbows on her knees and moved closer. “It thinks very highly of itself. Brags about its sweet taste, the chocolaty goodness.”
“Then what’s holding you back?”
Humor sparkled in her brown eyes. “It reminds me too much of you.”
“Really?” I drawled. “You think I am sweet?” Satisfaction curled in my belly. Maybe she was recalling the last time we played poker; the sweet moment when I’d had my arms on her and the tension crackled between us like the most brightly lit fire.
“I think you think you are sweet. Just like the arrogant pudding,” she quipped and peeked up at me.
The little minx. I threw my head back and laughed, happy when her uncertainty slipped away and her smile widened. My little jokester was not used to having fun. Definitely not used to telling jokes. It’d been clear she hadn’t been sure about the reception, but despite being a little awkward I found her incredibly charming.
And completely alluring.
“In that case,” I murmured with a wicked smile, “I think you should enjoy it.”
Her face flooded with color. “W-what?”
“The pudding, love,” I said, pretending not to understand where her mind had gone. I pushed the bowl towards her and grinned. “Enjoy.”
“Oh!” The way she stared at me—unfocused and a little bit lost—made my jeans uncomfortably tight.
With a jerk of my chin I indicated the bowl sitting under her unmoving fingers. “Before it runs away from you.”